Proposed wind farm prompts concern from residents of Lomond, Alta

Click to play video: 'Lomond residents voice concerns over proposed wind farm' Lomond residents voice concerns over proposed wind farm
WATCH ABOVE: A proposed wind farm project in Lomond, Alta. is hitting some roadblocks. People opposed to the project say they were not properly consulted, and as Emily Olsen reports, they want to know why – Feb 6, 2020

A proposed 24,000-acre wind farm near Lomond, Alta., has some area residents worried about the future of their farmland. It’s a small community, located about 75 kilometres north of Lethbridge near Vulcan.

“I am just a concerned citizen from Lomond, [but] there are a group of us,” said Ron Magnusen, whose family has been farming in the area for at least 100 years.

Magnusen said ABO Wind, the company in charge of the Buffalo Plains Wind Farm project, is compensating several landowners, including the Armada Hutterite Colony, to install towering wind turbines on their properties.

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“This one is about a 400-megawatt wind farm, which is kind of on the small size, but it takes up to 24,000 acres of farmland,” he said.

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Magnusen told Global News that neighbouring property owners were not properly consulted.

“They tried their best to acquire the land without exciting the public at large,” he said, “And when they achieved enough of a land base, then the word kind of spread.”

A sign in a store window in Lomond, Alta. protests a wind farm project slated to begin construction as early as 2021. Global News

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When asked about the consultation process, ABO directed Global News to the company’s website, which shows it has been sending out information packets since November 2018.

According to the company, the consultation process also included two open houses and a community breakfast last month. But Magnusen said he feels those sessions were more about explaining the project rather than hearing concerns.

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“It’s not about the money, it’s about the effect on our farmsteads,” he said.

“Places that we’ve been all our lives.”

Magnusen said those concerns include potential noise pollution as well as impact on the ecosystem and property values.

“They say that it will have zero impact on land values and property values,” he said. “I can’t buy that. That doesn’t make sense in my mind.”

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Signs posted around Lomond display messages in line with Magnusen’s sentiments, including several that said, “Value our community more than turbines.”

Magnusen said he feels the community has been given no choice.

“We’ve been offered really nothing by the company… it’s been forced on us, and here we are.”

ABO Wind is still awaiting approval on the project from the Alberta Utilities Commission.

According to the company’s website, if approved, construction could begin as soon as the summer of 2021, with the building process anticipated to take 12 to 20 months.

Several wind turbines east of Red Deer, Alta. on July 21, 2019. Karen Bartko, Global News

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